The biggest mistake the police ever made was when they took the cops off the street. They stopped walking the beat. What they should have done was put more walking cops on the streets and train them in peaceful conflict resolution. They went in the wrong direction.
I'm not for coercion, but if society is going to use police officers, then the least it can do is do it in a way that will make the police part of the friendly and helpful community. Right now, police officers are becoming more and more as cyborgs.
It was a mistake to put police behind sunglasses with reflective lens and to teach them to stand a certain way to come off as tough and authority figures. It was wrong to teach them to threaten people if those people didn't instantly obey commands that often don't make any sense to the people.
At the very least, the police should be trained to explain. Many people will cooperate when they understand. Otherwise, the police are engaging in humiliation, which is not the way to build support especially among other young, testosterone-laden men.
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008; A01
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.
Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers' identification and ask whether they have a "legitimate purpose" to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.
The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative is the latest crime-fighting attempt by Lanier and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who have been under pressure from residents to stop a recent surge in violence. Last weekend was especially bloody, with seven slayings, including three in the Trinidad area.
"In certain areas, we need to go beyond the normal methods of policing," Fenty (D) said at a news conference announcing the action. "We're going to go into an area and completely shut it down to prevent shootings and the sale of drugs."
The checkpoint will stop vehicles approaching the 1400 block of Montello Avenue NE, a section of the Trinidad neighborhood that has been plagued with homicides and other violence. Police will search cars if they suspect the presence of guns or drugs, and will arrest people who do not cooperate, under a charge of failure to obey a police officer, officials said.
Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday that they will be watching what happens closely and that legal action is likely.
"My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C.," said Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the ACLU's Washington office. "I mean, this is craziness. In this country, you don't have to show identification or explain to the police why you want to travel down a public street."